News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 22nd February 2008

Chichester Festival Theatre has announced its season running from 23rd May to 27th September. In the Festival Theatre: Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, in new version by Mike Poulton, about an actress returning to her family estate as it is about to be sold, with Diana Rigg, William Gaunt, Jemma Redgrave, Maureen Lipman and Natalie Cassidy, directed by Philip Franks; the '76 trombones' musical The Music Man, book, music and lyrics by Meridith Willson, about how a con man falls for a small town librarian and sees the error of his ways, with Brian Conley and Scarlett Strallen, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, with choreography by Stephen Mear; W Somerset Maugham's The Circle, a social satire exploring the conflict between romance and responsibility, with Susan Hampshire, directed by Jonathan Church; and Calendar Girls, adapted by Tim Firth from the 2003 film, about the members of the WI who posed for a calendar naked, but with their modesty preserved by artfully placed cakes, knitting and flower arrangements.

In the Minerva: Funny Girl, book by Isobel Lennart, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, the biomusical about the American vaudeville star Fanny Brice, with Samantha Spiro, directed by Angus Jackson, with choreography by Stephen Mear; Rupert Goold and Ben Power's contemporary reworking of Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters In Search Of An Author, in which six characters invade the rehearsals for a play and insist on being allowed to tell their story, directed by Goold; the premiere of Ronald Harwood's Collaboration, about the 1930s writing partnership of the composer and Nazi sympathiser Richard Strauss, and the Jewish writer Stephan Zweig, together with Harwood's Taking Sides, imagining the interrogation of Willhelm Furtwangler, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra throughout the Nazi era, by an American from the De-Nazification Tribunal in post-war Germany, both plays featuring Michael Pennington and directed by Philip Franks; and the premiere of Martin Sherman's Aristo, about the final years of the Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis, and his relationships with Jacqueline Kennedy, Maria Callas and his son, with Robert Lindsay, directed by Nancy Meckler.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Polly Stenham's debut play That Face, about two children who have become parents to their parents because of their mother's alcoholism, seen at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs last May, with Lindsay Duncan and Matt Smith reprising their performances, joined by Catherine Steadman and Julian Wadham, directed by Jeremy Herrin, will open at the Duke of York's Theatre on 8th May. The producers are Sonia Friedman Productions, Tulchin/Bartner and Jamie Hendry.

Meanwhile, back in Sloane Square, the Royal Court has confirmed the most successful plays from the Theatre Upstairs that will be presented in its main auditorium in the Upstairs Downstairs season. They are: Marius von Mayenburg's The Ugly One, a comedy about beauty, identity and getting ahead in life, with Michael Gould, directed by Ramin Gray, from 12th to 28th June; Anupama Chandrasekhar's Free Outgoing, about the impact of modern technology on a highly traditional society in India, with Lolita Chakrabarti, directed by Indhu Rubasingham, from 7th to 19th July; and Bola Agbaje's Gone Too Far!, a comedy about the culture clash of two brothers, one brought up in Nigeria, and one on a south London council estate, directed by Bijan Sheibani, from 28th July to 9th August.

English National Ballet is departing from its usual 'summer season' of an in the round classic at the Royal Albert Hall. This year it will present a new arena production of Strictly Gershwin, Derek Deane's homage to George Gershwin, the big band era of the 1930s, and dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, from 13th to 22nd June. The company of over 100 dancers will be joined by guest artists, including dancers Tamara Rojo, Guillaume Cote and Friedemann Vogel, and legendary singer Barbara Cook. In addition, English National Ballet will return to the Royal Festival Hall - its original London home - from 2nd to 5th July, with Festival Ballet, a programme of one act pieces comprising Harald Lander's Etudes, a celebration of the dancers' daily ballet class, David Dawson's A Million Kisses To My Skin, lyrical elegance and sublime beauty set to Bach's Concerto No. 1 in D minor, and a new piece by Wayne Eagling. Both seasons are presented by Raymond Gubbay.

Diversions dance company is currently on a nationwide tour until 8th June with Spring, a triple bill comprising two parts of Stephen Petronio's Strange Attractors - Prelude, set to Placebo's Without You I'm Nothing with vocals from David Bowie, and Part II, featuring a specially composed score by James Lavelle; and Stephen Shropshire's Sugarwater, created for the company to Anne Parlevliet's deconstruction of Handel's Water Music.

Ovation, the relaunched ITV Theatre Director Scheme, offers a 1 year programme for anyone over the age of 21 who wishes to make a career as a theatre director. Three candidates will be awarded bursaries of 12,000, and attachments at theatres, starting in July, where they will gain experience in all aspects of the theatre's operations, and undertake a programme of training to include assisting on productions. Previous theatres participating in the scheme include the Royal Court, the Young Vic, Bristol Old Vic, Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Sheffield Theatres, while Tim Albery, Michael Boyd, Ken Loach, Adrian Noble, Trevor Nunn and Tim Supple are among those directors who have benefited from it. The scheme is now being administered by the Young Vic. Further information and an application form can be found on the Ovation web site via the link from Information in the Links section of TheatreNet. The closing date for the receipt of applications is 10th March.

The Rumour Machine says: that Trevor Nunn will direct the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark; and that the Menier's current sellout production of the Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein musical La Cage aux Folles, with Douglas Hodge and Philip Quast, will make an immediate transfer to the West End. The Rumour Machine grinds on.